It’s not clear what was going through Ryder Hobbs’ mind as he caught a pass with no time remaining. Maybe it was getting across the goal line, but more likely, it was about the pizza he had just won for his team.
Hobbs reeled in a 39-yard touchdown pass on the final play of Saturday’s Division 1 game, clinching a 14-6 victory for the Pioneers over the Marshall County Elite – and a team pizza party.
“It seemed to work. We may have to try it again Saturday,” said coach TJ Blakely when asked about the pizza party, which was promised if the team scored two touchdowns.
It may have taken until the final play, but it was more than worth it for the Pioneers to secure their first victory after a 0-6 start.
The Pioneers had several close calls through the air throughout the game, with Hobbs barely missing long connections from QB Timothy Blakely. With time dwindling down, Warren County dialed up the pass one last time, hoping for a connection.
Hobbs was ready.
The Pioneer receiver secured the pass, then moved upfield toward two Elite defenders. Hobbs was able to bounce off one, then stiff-armed the second to the ground before racing the final 15 yards untouched.
When he was in the clear, Hobbs raised one finger into the air. It was a perfect moment to cap off his team’s first victory.
The Pioneers bookended their victory with huge plays on offense to begin and end the game.
After falling behind 6-0 on a 70-yard touchdown run by Marshall County on the third play, the Pioneers took over the ball at their own 30.
Blakely immediately pushed his team into scoring position, working off right end and racing into the open field. The quarterback ran out of steam at the last moment, getting pulled down one yard short of the endzone.
Joan Ramirez powered in from one yard out on the next play, tying the game at 6-6. Blakely connected with Hobbs on the conversion play, giving their team a 7-6 advantage.
Hobbs helped preserve the lead over the next three quarters, dominating defensively as Marshall County failed to score after its opening drive. Hobbs finished with nine tackles – five for loss – and forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Bryson Carroll pounced on the loose ball, setting up the Pioneers deep in Marshall County territory. Hobbs would catch the touchdown pass three plays later, with Blakely adding the conversion run before time expired.
Carroll also had a big play offensively, taking an end around and rushing 45 yards in the third quarter.
While the Division 1 Pioneers were victorious against Marshall County, the other Warren County teams didn’t fare as well. Warren County lost 32-0 in the Division 2 game and 38-0 in the Division 3 game.
The Pioneers will be back at home Saturday, Oct. 12 for games against the Fayetteville City Tigers. Action is set to start at 10 a.m. at Bobby Ray.